COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Give Tim Tebow the rest of the season. The Denver Broncos have nothing to lose by diving completely into the Tebow experiment. This team isn't traveling to the playoffs. There's no risk, but there is a massive question looming over the franchise:
Is Tebow a legit NFL starter?
I'm not sure, and anyone who answers with certainty is only revealing a suspect football mind.
Tebow is the most pressing Broncos mystery. He's entertaining. He's blessed with a natural bond with fans. He will sell tickets, boost TV ratings, inspire women across the country to swoon.
But his left arm remains suspect. Yes, he led the Broncos to two fourth-quarter touchdowns Sunday against the Chargers, but he also struggled to handle snaps and launched fastball passes that landed at receivers' feet.
Let's get this straight: Kyle Orton is finished as Broncos starter. John Fox and John Elway should ask Orton to transfer his NFL expertise to a still-raw quarterback.
Orton flinched Sunday afternoon when asked if he would support Tebow.
"I try to support all my teammates," he said in a defeated voice. He had to know it was all over for him even as it was all beginning for Tebow.
I don't believe Orton will sulk. He's a mature pro who will conquer his disappointment and reach out to a youthful quarterback who needs his help. Orton will serve as a strong, reliable mentor.
To many, Orton remains a sympathetic, maybe even tragic, figure who was booed without mercy by Broncos fans. At halftime Sunday, Orton trudged from the field listening to thunderous disapproval. He must have sensed his Mile High critics were speaking for a few million other Broncos fans.
I asked Orton supporters to speak up Monday, and to my surprise a few did.
A Colorado Springs Gazette reader named Mike stood up, kind of, for the state's most unpopular athlete.
"Looks like I may be the only Orton supporter in the state," Mike wrote. "... He is average but yet he is not horrible."
Linda said she felt pity for Orton, especially after the booing.
"It would certainly wear on my self-esteem," she wrote.
Yes, Orton has been blamed far too much for the collapse of the Broncos. He's been cursed with a woeful supporting cast. Peyton Manning in his prime would have failed to carry the Broncos to a winning record in 2010.
But Orton was given every chance, and he failed to deliver. He lost 21 of 27 games as starter. He threw seven interceptions this season, tied for tops in the NFL. He could have silenced the shouting masses of Tebow supporters.
Instead, he withered. Fox showed obvious reluctance to go with Tebow, but Orton gave his coach no choice.
"We're all adults," Fox said Sunday, "and we understand this is a performance-based business."
Orton has proven he's not worthy to start for the Broncos. Brady Quinn revealed in Cleveland he was placed on earth to serve as a backup quarterback.
This leaves Tebow as the only answer. He could lead a Broncos revival, multiply his multitude of followers, rampage past befuddled tacklers and prove he was worthy of a No. 1 pick.
Or he could fail. To all you Tebow believers out there, please remember the failure rate for NFL quarterbacks is astronomical. Tebow was a superlative college quarterback. So was Ryan Leaf, Rick Mirer and, yes, Mr. Quinn.
At least this Broncos season now has a reason for being. Tebow battled past two failed NFL starters to seize control of the offense.
Is he ready? Can he develop his still-suspect passing? Will he be a bust?
The Broncos' season had been a boring mess. With Tebow leading the way, it might remain a mess.
It won't be boring.